If you haven’t heard the news yet, we have a new Curator of Education! Shigeko Honda comes to us from the University of West Florida where she served as the Director of the Japan Center and the Japan House. We sat down with Shigeko-san for a quick Q&A so you can get to know her a little better. Here’s what she had to say:
Q: What did you do as the Director of the Japan Center and Japan House at the University of West Florida?
A: I supervised the Japanese language program, reviewed applications for the Florida-Japan Linkage Institute’s out-of-state-tuition exemption program, organized the annual U.S.-Japan Social Welfare symposium and Summer Semester in Japan program (in collaboration with a partner college in Japan), organized Japanese cultural programs and events, handled displays at the Japan House, served as a liaison for our sister city (Gero) and sister state (Wakayama), managed volunteers, etc.
Q: It sounds like you had a lot on your plate at UWF, but all of them seem to stem from your interest in fostering understanding between the U.S. and Japan. What initially made you want to spread your love of Japanese Culture in the U.S.?
A: I enjoy Japanese culture and thought that teaching and sharing it with American people would be a great way to keep learning about and enjoying it myself.
Q: We know you’re originally from Japan, but what city did you grow up in, and when did you come to the U.S.?
A: I was born and raised in a small town called Daigo in Ibaraki prefecture. The town is surrounded by mountains and has four distinct and beautiful seasons. I attended high school in Daigo and then went to Tokyo to attend college. I came to the U.S. 33 years ago with my husband, who was originally from Pensacola. I lived in Pensacola for the first 8 years, and then moved to Gulf Breeze where I lived for 25 years. I like to call Gulf Breeze and Pensacola my American hometowns.
Q: Cuisine is one of our favorite things to talk about, so we just have to ask – what is your favorite American food?
A: Steak. Although I only eat steak every once in a while, I like a good steak grilled medium rare with a baked potato with sea salt.
Q: Even though you’ve been in Florida for a while, you’ve only been with us a short time, so what has been your favorite part of working at Morikami so far?
A: Being able to be involved in such a significant event as the Kōgei Arts and Crafts exhibit that is sponsored by the Japanese government’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Agency for Cultural Affairs as well as the Consulate General of Japan in Miami has been great. Not only do some of the objects in the exhibit come from the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo, many of them are made by National Living Treasures. To be able to get involved at this scale in such a high level exhibit is truly a privilege.
A: Working with docents makes me very excited. They are so knowledgeable and they’re wonderful people. I would like to share with them what I know about Japanese culture and learn about Morikami from them.
Q: So, when you aren’t here learning from our top notch docents or helping others learn more about Japan what do you like to do in your free time?